President Christina Paxson P’19 spoke on the Russia-Ukraine conflict at the March 1 faculty meeting, detailing how the University is taking a “personalized” approach to supporting its students.
“These are truly harrowing experiences for affected members of our community, and it’s hard to imagine how people can focus on being a student, being a good employee,” Paxson said. “We reach out to individuals from affected areas and make sure they’re okay and offer support.”
According to Paxson, the University currently has 10 students who are known to be from Ukraine, but she encouraged faculty members to reach out if they “know of students or colleagues who are having a difficult time.”
Paxson also explained that the University plans to continue being “a safe haven for displaced students and scholars,” and the Office of the Provost is in contact with the Scholars at Risk Network and other resources “to learn how we can help students and scholars from Ukraine.”
The University has previously worked with the Scholars at Risk Network to potentially bring displaced Afghan scholars to Brown, The Herald previously reported.
The Division of Campus Life and the Global Brown Center for International Students are also “looking into developing opportunities for Ukrainian students this summer in case they can’t safely return home,” Paxson said.
The University is also a member of multiple other higher education groups, including the American Council on Education and the Association of American Universities, that have “called for the secretary of homeland security and the secretary of state to issue temporary protected status and special student relief for Ukrainian nationals residing and studying in the U.S.,” Paxson said. This would prevent students from losing their F-1 visa status and protect recent graduates on other types of visas from being deported.
Paxson also responded to recent calls by Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, for the deportation of Russian university students, stating that “Brown would be strongly opposed to the deportation of any of our students.”
“We are a global university. We believe in the power of education and scholarship to bring people and nations together,” Paxson said. “The investments we make in students and in scholarship are long-term investments in the peaceful future that we all hope for.”
Paxson also addressed community criticisms of the letter that she released Sunday, co-authored by Provost Richard Locke P’18 and Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes, detailing the University’s support of its community during this time.
Paxson said that some community members felt the letter should’ve contained a “full-throated condemnation of the Russian nation” and criticized the University for not issuing statements in the past regarding other global conflicts.
“Our general approach as an institution is actually to avoid making public statements of outrage or condemnation in response to events that occur around the world unless they are specifically relevant to members of our community,” Paxson said.
“We are, however, very vocal on policy issues, like (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) or immigration matters, that are vitally important to members of our community,” Paxson added, referencing her previous expression of support for students benefiting from the DACA program. “We also communicate about actions that we’re taking to address issues of concern.”